Waging War on Whistleblowers and why I support the Bradley Mannings

by Paul Arenson  paul@tokyoprogressive.org

Posted on demsabroad@yahoogroups.com on June 11, 2012

Ok, an election year. Most of the critical voices here have disappeared, perhaps tired of being ignored. Tired of lip service being paid to the need to protect supposedly Democratic values while  mostly ignoring the rape of Democracy engaged in by members of this party because, as the mantra goes, “we have to keep the right wing out of power and protect our gains”. Tell that to the victims of drone strikes. Tell that to the parents of kids killed, something we would not have known about had Bradley Manning not leaked the info. Bradley manning is my hero. He should be yours, too.



..”Frank Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times; Jamila Bey, reporter for Voice of Russia Radio; Michael Hastings, and The Nation’s John Nichols, examine the leaks about the administration’s secret drone war against terrorist suspects and ask whether the disclosures are, in effect, healthy for the political process.”


Holder goes after leakers of kill list, Obama probably thought it would make him look good to those in this election year who see targeted killings as a sign of macho toguhness a la Bush and Cheney, McCain is a hypocrite, since he would normally be in favor of this Bushite stuff. More than all previous administrations, Obama and Holder have prosecuted 6 people under the 1917 Espionage Act, 9 in history.




Obama the Bush-Cheney clone (defending his attacks on the leaks and his unleashing of virus)



Right wing “Vaterland” Security member praises Obama drone strikes



Using a massacre to justify a war (and a short history of our own massacres)







Chris Hedeges recently wrote about another of my heroes. He noted that  92-year-old Father Daniel Berrigan, poet/priest and Vietnam war resister recently stood in Zucotti Park and demanded that Trinity Church, dripping with riches,  drop its un-Christian filing of charges against Occupy protestors. There are many parallels that can be drawn between a priest standing up to a church and party members standing up to their party elders. Berrigan said, “If faith does not touch the lives of others it has no point. Faith always starts with oneself. It means an overriding sense of responsibility for the universe, making sure that universe is left in good hands and the belief that things will finally turn out right if we remain faithful. But I underscore the word `faithful.’ This faith was embodied in the Occupy movement from the first day. The official churches remained slow. It is up to us to take the initiative and hope the churches catch up.”


Same with this party. As Hedges notes,  “There is one place, Berrigan says, where those who care about justice need to be—in the streets. The folly of electoral politics, the colossal waste of energy invested in the charade of the Wisconsin recall, which once again funneled hopes and passion back into a dead political system and a bankrupt Democratic Party, the failure by large numbers of citizens to carry out mass acts of civil disobedience, will only ensure that we remain hostages to corporate power.”

Hedges reminds us that Berrigan and his late brother Phil, along with Thomas Merton, led some of the early civil disobedience against the Vietnam war. He burned selective service files with home-made napalm, writing, “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children… How many must die before our voices are heard, how many must be tortured, dislocated, starved, maddened? When, at what point, will you say no to this war?”

He was sentenced to many years in prison, and lived life as a fugitive, but even when he got out, he went right back to his civil disobedience in the spirit of Martin Luther King (not the white-washed feel-good King presented in our national history as reported in textbooks and on TV, but the real Dr. King who was targeted by the FBI, much as Manning and friends are prosecuted by Holder and Obama as most here hold their tongues, either out of blind obedience or because they feel to focus on the bad will give the republicans an advantage in November).

And so it goes, every election.  Now is not the time to speak. Now is the time for unity.  Tell that to the kids we kill with our drone strikes. Tell that to the Bradley Mannings who spend years, and possibly the rest of their lives in prison, even solitary confinement, for telling us what we otherwise would not have known about our own murderous alter ego.

The Berrigans are a lesson for all of us. Even after he got out of prison, together with Phil, he went in and damaged General Electric nuclear warhead cones and poured blood onto documents. All told, Phil was in jail for 10 years.

Hedges notes  that, “in a culture that lacks many authentic heroes, that continues to preach that military service is the highest good, Berrigan is a potent reminder of what we must seek to become. His is a life of constant agitation, constant defiance, constant disobedience to systems of power, a life of radical obedience to God. His embrace of what has been called ‘Christian anarchism,’ because of its persistent alienation and hostility to all forms of power, is the most effective form of resistance. And it is the clearest expression of the Christian Gospel. Berrigan has been arrested numerous times—’I don’t waste time counting,’ …for also protesting American intervention in Central America and the first Gulf War, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has demonstrated against the death penalty, in support of LGBT rights and against abortion. And even in his 90s he is not finished.”

A look at the lifestyles of Berrigan and Trinity Church rector Cooper is also instructive:

Daniel Berrigan: lives in a single room with a half dozen other retired priests in a parish house in lower Manhattan

Dr. James Cooper: “earns $1.3 million a year, lives in a $5.5 million SoHo townhouse, receives a church allowance to maintain his Florida condo, dips into church funds to take his family on African safaris and oversees the church’s $1 billion in Manhattan real estate holdings from which the church receives as much as $30 million a year. He spent $5 million on a public relations campaign, nearly double the $2.7 million the church gave out in grants, in one year. Ten of the church’s 22-member vestry—its board of directors—have quit over Cooper’s authoritarianism and extravagance.”


And then we have the rich that Obama, Rahm Emanuel, etc. represent.  A recent revelation was made about the extent to which Obama had to placate the drug industry to get his half hearted reforms through, and this is not because he is up against evil. It is because he is cut from the same cloth.

Hedges notes that “Cooper, like Berrigan, attended seminary and studied the Gospel, but he has modeled his life after Herod rather than Jesus. He has turned Trinity Church into a temple to greed. He is an appropriate priest for Wall Street. And on Monday, when activists appear in court because he and the other leaders of Trinity Church are determined to prosecute them, Cooper should consider removing the Christian cross from the sanctuary and replacing it with the true symbol he appears to worship—the dollar sign.”

By contrast, the Berrigans and Bradley Mannings of the world live by a different creed.

“All we have is one another to sustain us. Community is not magical. It means people are willing to be human beings together. And it means they are willing to pay the price for being human.”

paul arenson

miyazaki, japan